Harbaugh Era So Far - How do you rate it?

Submitted by Indy Pete - Go Blue on July 24th, 2018 at 10:43 AM

What are your thoughts?  Is it a success, failure, in-between, or incomplete? (I got this topic idea from Cody Stavenhagen on the Athletic and wanted to hear from you all.  Here are my thoughts...

I feel that it has largely been a success considering where the program was when he took it over. He overachieved with a transfer quarterback in his first season by winning 10 games and turning Rudock into an NFL draft pick. In his second season, they lost three games by a total of five points - all of which came down to the final play. Granted, they could have made plays earlier so that they weren’t in that situation. Regardless, they were one shady call in Columbus away from playing in the Big Ten championship and moving on to the playoff. That was all accomplished with a three star quarterback who was not immensely talented. Last year, they had the least number of returning starters in D1 college football. Their top two quarterbacks got injured, and they still managed to win eight games.

Harbaugh has been a victim of unrealistic expectations, created partially by his overachieving and leading the team to the brink of the playoff in his second season and partially because of his outstanding accomplishments at every other coaching job he has taken. Look at what happened to Florida State, a preseason top three team, when they lost their quarterback last season. Look at Notre Dame and Michigan State in the 2016 season, they were 3-9 and 4-8 respectively. The worst season in the Harbaugh era of Michigan is 8-5. Let’s not forget to mention that while he has not fared well against his rivals, MSU had two fluky wins. They barely won in a monsoon with 5 Michigan turnovers that still went to the final play and won on one of the luckiest plays in college football history. I already mentioned that OSU won one game on a very questionable call. Also, anybody who watched last year‘s game knows that even decent quarterback play would have led to a Michigan victory. How many teams can compete with Ohio State like that with their third string quarterback? And now this year, you have a very talented roster and an excellent coaching staff ready to compete again at the highest level. Also, he is looking at his third top 10 recruiting class in four years.

Things are very bright in Ann Arbor (despite the misleading media and jealous fan bases pointing out third-place divisional finishes without any context). And the best of the era is yet to come. Michigan fans are fortunate to have such an excellent leader for the program. Plus, when you look at their two two chief rivals off the field, Michigan fans have to be grateful to have a leader, a program, and a university that stand for something more than winning at all costs.


I'm Batman

July 24th, 2018 at 10:47 AM ^

Three top five defenses in a row. Averaging 9.66 wins a season. Went from the worst ten year stretch of our lifetimes, to relevant. Id say its a moderate success at the least. With a chance to be a roaring success if the oline and qb situation are corrected this season.


July 24th, 2018 at 10:51 AM ^

Somewhat successful, but incomplete. Yes, more competitive, but 0 - 3 in The Game and 1 - 2 vs. MSU is a fail irrespective of circumstance.

2015 was a big success, 2016 was a big disappointment given the roster, 2017 was a disappointment, but more than 2-3 losses was understandable.

Lack of OL development over 3 years is a disappointment. 

Lack of QB is largely bizarre circumstances with inherited talent.

This year I expect 2-losses even if the team performs well. OL and QB is still too questionable and the schedule is ridiculous. Go 3 - 1 vs OSU, MSU, PSU and WI and I'll be mostly satisfied.


July 24th, 2018 at 12:08 PM ^

For me PSU is a rivalry at an intellectual level, but not much of an emotional one. Maybe that changes at some point, but I care about PSU as far as winning the East, without a visceral reaction. The fans are a little chippy but I only interact with a couple. 

Obviously, it does not compare to The Game at all. 3 - 17 over the last decade vs. them and MSU has been a nightmare. As an aside, because of growing up during the 70/80s I have more hatred for ND and USC than PSU. 

Beat OSU and MSU this year and I'm mostly fine with a loss to PSU.


July 24th, 2018 at 3:40 PM ^

It depends on who the 1-loss is. If it's WI or PSU and UM wins the East & B1G then I'm completely satisfied. If it's either OSU or MSU (even on the road, even with a B1G title) then I cannot be completely satisfied.

Complete satisfaction requires a B1G title and wins in The Game and vs. MSU -- even with a tough schedule.


July 24th, 2018 at 10:52 AM ^

I’d give it a 8/10. Starting at 5/10: +3 for defense (because WOW), -1 for rival record, -1 for bad finishes (16,17), +1 for recruiting, +1 for instant national relevance 


July 24th, 2018 at 12:33 PM ^

I'm with curtalv8: 8/10. ("Starting at 5/10: +3 for defense (because WOW), -1 for rival record, -1 for bad finishes (16,17), +1 for recruiting, +1 for instant national relevance.")

I might get there slightly differently though: -1 for rival record and bad finishes, +2 for national relevance. It drove me nuts that people ignored Michigan but it's part of the conversation again, AND, another indication of national relevance, Spartie reporters, SEC bigmouths, and other trolls are obsessed with UM.

Occam's Razor

July 24th, 2018 at 10:52 AM ^

B, 83.64. 

The wins and national attention are nice, but I'll gladly take Ls to schools like Colorado and Indiana if it meant we beat OSU and MSU consistently. 

Here's to breaking the 11 win ceiling this year! 


July 24th, 2018 at 12:03 PM ^

I call bullshit!  You - and everyone else - would cry foul as loudly as T-Rex roars in bad movies if they lost to Colorado, Indiana, or any of the other schools at that level.  And it wouldn't matter if they beat OSU, MSU, and PSU.  The cry would be 'why can't they beat the crappy teams'...


July 24th, 2018 at 5:07 PM ^

There would be bitching, but I would much rather the record be  5-1 vs MSU & OSU with an inexplicable loss to NW, Iowa, Minnesota,etc once per year. That would feel very much like the Michigan teams I knew in the 80's and 90's.

Yes, everyone kept asking what if about that one weird loss, but at least it wasn't "when is Michigan ever going to beat OSU again?"

I can't imagine growing up a Michigan fan over the last 20 years and having to interface with Buckeye fans. What do you say at this point? When the rivalry was equal you could have really good arguments and mutual respect. I know, I grew up in central Ohio.  Lately it has devolved into pity and acceptance until proven otherwise. Even fans of other Big Ten teams feel awkward talking to me about Michigan and we are adults. Really sad.


July 24th, 2018 at 10:52 AM ^

very high.  I don't know what scale I am supposed to use so I will score it an A.3

room to improve but so much better than the abattoir we endured starting in 2008 with a chance to be exceptional.

Bando Calrissian

July 24th, 2018 at 10:53 AM ^

At some point, he's going to have to beat Ohio State and Michigan State. That's just how it is at Michigan. He hasn't been able to do it so far, no matter the excuses one produces to justify 1-5. For better or worse, the big ones matter. 

Also see: Even playing for the conference championship.


July 24th, 2018 at 5:13 PM ^

Reverse the once in a lifetime play at MSU, that still leaves 0-3 vs OSU. For many of the older fans, that is what sticks out more than anything. And frankly, I don't care about Durkin leaving, one inch, and lackluster QB play. 

John Cooper couldn't beat Michigan and he was let go for it. (albeit after 13 seasons) But Michigan fans still laugh about that. 


July 24th, 2018 at 6:19 PM ^

And MSU had 6 guys hurt in 2015, and we still couldn't win. We need to stop this woe is me garbage and just win, every team deals with injuries. We couldnt put them away and fucked around and that's what happens. Rivalry games almost always come down to a play here or there, and when you can't consistently make said plays, it's not luck. It wasn't luck that Cooper couldn't beat us no matter how many times he had the better team, and it's not luck that we continue to struggle with both major rivals. 


July 24th, 2018 at 3:16 PM ^

I think the point that people are making with their "probably" is that context is important. You have to look at where this team was before he showed up. Under Harbaugh we have been competitive to the point that a break or two going our way instead of our opponents changes the outcomes of those games.

That is a far cry from were we were under previous regimes. 


July 24th, 2018 at 9:48 PM ^

While I guess you're factually correct, we need to be better than a play away from it going either way. How many times have we said, "If it wasn't for that one play....." or "If that had gone our way instead, we would've won." I'm fine with Harbaugh, I think he's an excellent coach. But he has to figure out the qb or we're never going to get beyond "If only...."

Blue in PA

July 24th, 2018 at 10:54 AM ^

2016 was three defensive stops from being an undefeated season.....  

No one is happy with last year, but the team exceeded expectations in his first 2 seasons.  

Its going to be a good year, its going to be a good, good year.


July 24th, 2018 at 1:08 PM ^

Living in Ohio, OSU fans are by far the worst part of being a Michigan fan.  There are people down here who are wondering how long the Michigan fan base will want him to continue coaching.  I tell them how close his losses have been and wonder who Michigan could get that would be better.  Then we argue about the poor spot of the ball.

yossarians tree

July 24th, 2018 at 2:12 PM ^

I hear that shit from State fans all the time. "He's gonna drive everyone there crazy." "He's on the hot seat." They're so transparent and dumb that they think I can't see what's really going on inside those little peanut brains--that they want want him gone because they fear what he's building and they want to see the program thrown back into turmoil again looking for another coach. I tell those fuckers we love Harbaugh and the university is thinking about a lifetime contract so go pound sand. Any Michigan fan who says "Harbaugh better start winning championships" should also tell us the "or what." Who the fuck could do a better job of understanding the university and the fanbase, field a team of good kids who actually want an education and who we can be proud of, and has NFL coaching chops that took him to the Super Bowl and to the brink of two more? I'd be very happy if they gave him a long-term or lifetime contract. 

Beilein 4 Life

July 24th, 2018 at 6:59 PM ^

If you would quit paying them so much, we wouldn’t have to worry about them being one of the highest paid coaching staffs.

I always laugh at people who bring how much a coach is paid as if that has anything to do with why they are frustrated. Harbaugh could get paid $1 per year and walked here from California and you would be mad about 8 wins last year 


July 24th, 2018 at 10:56 AM ^

I grade it an 8 out of 10. I no longer have to fear each week of losing to crappy teams, but he needs to win the toss up games, which so far he has not. Either way I would not want anyone else. 

The Maizer

July 24th, 2018 at 10:57 AM ^

Everyone makes emotional judgements rather than rational ones. That's what sports fandom is. It's easy to look rationally at where we were 4 years ago and think Harbaugh has been successful. It's also easy to look at our record against OSU emotionally and think football is dumb and everything sucks and always will suck.


July 24th, 2018 at 10:57 AM ^

The program rebuilding is on-track and the on-field success is about where I expected it to be and a few close finishes from excellent. Obviously would like the OSU/MSU side to be better but there's no doubt in my mind that's a focus for everyone involved. 

Looking at the roster, program/staff improvements and 'crootin I see 10ish wins under Harbaugh from now on. A special season gets them to the playoffs, a dip might see 9 wins, but this is the best the program has looked since the halcyon 1997-2004 peak Carr period. 

On top of that the non-football parts are outstanding and we don't talk/think about them enough (myself included). The academics and community service aspects are as good as they've ever been. Very few players are getting in any kind of trouble, and that includes two extended trips to other countries. Hell, even the 5th year handshakes and processing seem to have been done with class. 


July 24th, 2018 at 10:59 AM ^

A- for willingness to look at the program and readily admit we need change. Making hard coaching decisions and going after a team archetype that fits the modern game will serve Michigan well, I think. Competent coaches running a system that better attacks team's weaknesses is a good thing.

B- for last two years executing the Harbaugh way.


B+ for excitement level this year. I think the schedule is too hard to get all the way there, but if we win against our rivals then I will be pleased.